Monday, February 7, 2011

By Extension - Monet, Merritt, Hawthorne, Hensche Connection

The dominant teaching process today is based in tonalism.  A value based underpainting or drawing with colour added on top.  These people did not go this way.  As he developed, Monet became able to see and show the light effects on shapes.  So he started directly with the colours he saw.  His successors spent life times trying to understand and pass on this approach.

Henry Hensche was a student of Hawthorne.  He became Hawthorne's assistant.  Eventually, Henry developed more effective teaching approaches that demonstrated Hawthorne's ideas.  Just as Hawthorne developed figure and portrait studies based on the mud heads painted from life out of doors, Hensche developed block studies also done out of doors.  The beauty of the block studies is that they demonstrate the light effect on the simplest planes available.  One starts off doing these in sun light because the colours are easiest to see.  Then one will be able to do grey day studies in the overcast even though the colours are more difficult to see and the values are close together.  Eventually one will be able to differentiate sun in the morning, mid day, late day etc, and the same for grey days.

Block Study under Gallery Light - Multiple Sources

This study was done under the warm light in doors.  There were three iterations or adjustments made here.  The blocks were set up on a bench.  The shapes were stated with the colour closest to what is seen.  One at a time.  As the canvas is filled up one begins to see other colours that were not visible at first glance.  So each shape is adjusted compared to each other.  As the adjustments are made, more colour is seen.  This exercise shows you that the local colour is obliterated by the light.  It shows you the there is a different colour for each plane change.  It shows you that there are colour gradations on each plane.  Monet's approach of showing modelling by colour change is explained (as opposed to value change).  In the landscape Monet used this to show depth.  It explains the use of a series to study different light effects.  Hensche and Hawthorne showed that the application of spots of colour developed what others would attempt by drawing.

After studying the blocks in varying conditions student were progressed to studying items in still life.  This complicated the exercise because the number of planes increased substantially from the blocks.  Think of what the portrait would do, indeed the landscape.

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